New English Translation
By David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, causing the king to send him away.[b]
34 I will praise[c] the Lord at all times;
my mouth will continually praise him.[d]
2 I will boast[e] in the Lord;
let the oppressed hear and rejoice.[f]
3 Magnify the Lord with me.
Let us praise[g] his name together.
4 I sought the Lord’s help[h] and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him and be radiant;
do not let your faces be ashamed.[i]
6 This oppressed man cried out and the Lord heard;
he saved him[j] from all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord camps around
the Lord’s[k] loyal followers[l] and delivers them.[m]
8 Taste[n] and see that the Lord is good.
How blessed[o] is the one[p] who takes shelter in him.[q]
9 Fear the Lord, you chosen people of his,[r]
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 Even young lions sometimes lack food and are hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come children. Listen to me.
I will teach you what it means to fear the Lord.[s]
12 Do you want to really live?[t]
Would you love to live a long, happy life?[u]
13 Then make sure you don’t speak evil words[v]
or use deceptive speech.[w]
14 Turn away from evil and do what is right.[x]
Strive for peace and promote it.[y]
15 The Lord pays attention to the godly
and hears their cry for help.[z]
16 But the Lord opposes evildoers
and wipes out all memory of them from the earth.[aa]
17 The godly[ab] cry out and the Lord hears;
he saves them from all their troubles.[ac]
18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
he delivers[ad] those who are discouraged.[ae]
19 The godly[af] face many dangers,[ag]
but the Lord saves[ah] them[ai] from each one of them.
20 He protects[aj] all his bones;[ak]
not one of them is broken.[al]
21 Evil people self-destruct;[am]
those who hate the godly are punished.[an]
22 The Lord rescues his servants;[ao]
all who take shelter in him escape punishment.[ap]
- Psalm 34:1 sn Psalm 34. In this song of thanksgiving the psalmist praises God for delivering him from distress. He encourages others to be loyal to the Lord, tells them how to please God, and assures them that the Lord protects his servants. The psalm is an acrostic; vv. 1-21 begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (Verse 6 begins with the letter he (ה) and v. 7 with the letter zayin (ז). The letter vav (ו), which comes between ה and ז, seems to be omitted, although it does appear at the beginning of v. 6b. The final verse of the psalm, which begins with the letter pe (פ), is outside the acrostic scheme.
- Psalm 34:1 tn Heb “By David, when he changed his sense before Abimelech and he drove him away and he went.”sn Pretended to be insane. The psalm heading appears to refer to the account in 1 Sam 21:10-15 which tells how David, fearful that King Achish of Gath might kill him, pretended to be insane in hopes that the king would simply send him away. The psalm heading names the king Abimelech, not Achish, suggesting that the tradition is confused on this point. However, perhaps “Abimelech” was a royal title, rather than a proper name. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 278.
- Psalm 34:1 tn Heb “bless.”
- Psalm 34:1 tn Heb “continually [will] his praise [be] in my mouth.”
- Psalm 34:2 tn Heb “my soul will boast”; or better, “let my soul boast.” Following the cohortative form in v. 1, it is likely that the prefixed verbal form here is jussive.
- Psalm 34:2 tn The two prefixed verbal forms in this verse are best taken as jussives, for the psalmist is calling his audience to worship (see v. 3).
- Psalm 34:3 tn Or “exalt.”
- Psalm 34:4 tn Heb “I sought the Lord.”
- Psalm 34:5 tc The translation follows the LXX. The MT reads “they looked to him and were radiant; let their faces not be ashamed.” The MT reads the first verb as a perfect (הִבִּיטוּ, hibbitu), which would be past time, while the LXX (supported by Aquila, the Syriac, Jerome, and some medieval Hebrew mss) reads an imperative (הַבִּיטוּ, habbitu). The MT reads the second verb as a vav plus perfect, while the LXX reads it as an imperative, again a difference of the initial vowel. The third verb is a jussive preceded by אַל (ʾal), which supports reading the first two as imperatives. The second masculine plural pronoun (“your faces”) of the LXX and the Syriac, matches this understanding of the preceding verbs. The MT reading (“their faces”) is consistent with its view of the previous verbs. The reading adopted here interprets the verse as interrupting a testimony given to the congregation with an admonition based on that testimony.
- Psalm 34:6 tn The pronoun refers back to “this oppressed man,” namely, the psalmist.
- Psalm 34:7 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Psalm 34:7 tn Heb “those who fear him.”
- Psalm 34:7 tn The prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive here carries the same generalizing force as the active participle in the first line. See GKC 329 §111.u.
- Psalm 34:8 tn This verb is normally used of tasting food, as in eating a little bit of food (1 Sam 14:43; Jonah 3:7) or evaluating it (Job 12:11; 34:3). The two references to the physical senses stand for invitation and realization. Even a small or beginning experience of God reveals that he is good.
- Psalm 34:8 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1, 3; 2:12; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).
- Psalm 34:8 tn Heb “man.” The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the more neutral “one.”
- Psalm 34:8 tn “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 2:12; 5:11-12; 31:17-20; 34:21-22).
- Psalm 34:9 tn Heb “O holy ones of his.”
- Psalm 34:11 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord I will teach you.” In vv. 13-14 the psalmist explains to his audience what it means to “fear” the Lord.
- Psalm 34:12 tn Heb “Who is the man who desires life?” The rhetorical question is used to grab the audience’s attention. “Life” probably refers here to quality of life, not just physical existence or even duration of life. See the following line.
- Psalm 34:12 tn Heb “[Who] loves days to see good?”
- Psalm 34:13 tn Heb “guard your tongue from evil.”
- Psalm 34:13 tn Heb “and your lips from speaking deception.”
- Psalm 34:14 tn Or “do good.”
- Psalm 34:14 tn Heb “seek peace and pursue it.”
- Psalm 34:15 tn Heb “the eyes of the Lord [are] toward the godly, and his ears [are] toward their cry for help.”
- Psalm 34:16 tn Heb “the face of the Lord [is] against the doers of evil to cut off from the earth memory of them.”
- Psalm 34:17 tn Heb “they” (i.e., the godly mentioned in v. 15).
- Psalm 34:17 tn The three perfect verbal forms are taken in a generalizing sense in v. 17 and translated with the present tense (note the generalizing mood of vv. 18-22).
- Psalm 34:18 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form highlights the generalizing statement and draws attention to the fact that the Lord typically delivers the oppressed and needy.
- Psalm 34:18 tn Heb “the crushed in spirit.”
- Psalm 34:19 tn The Hebrew text uses the singular form; the representative or typical godly person is envisioned.
- Psalm 34:19 tn Or “trials.”
- Psalm 34:19 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form highlights the generalizing statement and draws attention to the fact that the Lord typically delivers the godly.
- Psalm 34:19 tn Heb “him,” agreeing with the singular form in the preceding line.
- Psalm 34:20 tn The Hebrew participial form suggests such protection is characteristic.
- Psalm 34:20 tn That is, he protects the godly from physical harm.
- Psalm 34:20 sn Not one of them is broken. The author of the Gospel of John saw a fulfillment of these words in Jesus’ experience on the cross (see John 19:31-37), for the Roman soldiers, when they saw that Jesus was already dead, did not break his legs as was customarily done to speed the death of crucified individuals. John’s use of the psalm seems strange, for the statement in its original context suggests that the Lord protects the godly from physical harm. Jesus’ legs may have remained unbroken, but he was brutally and unjustly executed by his enemies. John seems to give the statement a literal sense that is foreign to its original literary context by applying a promise of divine protection to a man who was seemingly not saved by God. However, John saw in this incident a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate deliverance and vindication. His unbroken bones were a reminder of God’s commitment to the godly and a sign of things to come. Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end of the story; God vindicated him, as John goes on to explain in the following context (John 19:38-20:18).
- Psalm 34:21 tn Heb “evil kills the wicked [one].” The singular form is representative; the typical evil person is envisioned. The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the typical nature of the action.
- Psalm 34:21 tn Heb “are guilty,” but the verb is sometimes used metonymically with the meaning “to suffer the consequences of guilt,” the effect being substituted for the cause.
- Psalm 34:22 tn Heb “redeems the life of his servants.” The Hebrew participial form suggests such deliverance is characteristic.
- Psalm 34:22 tn “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear, and serve the Lord (Pss 2:12; 5:11-12; 31:19).